Suesa impresses for France in King George Qatar Stakes
It was a win for France in the G2 King George Qatar Stakes, as Suesa ran away with the showpiece event on day four of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
Run over five furlongs, all eyes were on 2/1 favourite Battaash in his bid for an historic fifth straight win in the race. Instead, it was the three-year-old filly Suesa (7/1) who made it five wins from six career starts, with her only defeat so far coming in the G1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last month.
Trained by Francois Rohaut, Suesa was covered up early on by jockey William Buick but, as the gaps appeared, she quickened smartly to register a commanding three-length victory over fellow three-year-old Dragon Symbol (5/2). Glass Slippers (22/1) was a further length and a half back in third while Battaash finished seventh.
Buick was registering a sixth win at this year’s Qatar Goodwood Festival to move clear in the Leading Jockey standings.
James Wigan, racing manager to owner George Strawbridge, said: “We thought Suesa was very good before Ascot. Then the rains came and the ground was bottomless and she just could not act on it. William looked after her then.
“What she did in France was very impressive before. We didn’t know what she’d be like against these, but we knew she was pretty good.
“There are not really any sprint races in France in the summer, so this was really the only place to come, but I was concerned about this rain!
“As for a run at York [in the G1 Nunthorpe Stakes], it depends what she is like when she gets back. She’ll have had quite a lot of travelling, coming here and then going back, then coming again having already done Ascot. The Abbaye will be the obvious target.
“There is a very good chance she will stay in training next year as the owner is very much a sportsman.”
Buick said: “Suesa is an absolute sweetheart.
“It was an amazing performance. She travelled through the race strongly and once she got into it, she had that strong kick at the finish. She was very impressive, and she has a great attitude to go with it.
“She looked good in France before the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. The ground was bad that day and it was over six furlongs, and she had no cover. I learnt a lot about her that day. She’s full of speed.
“She came back to five furlongs today and travelled so smoothly. She was hard on the bridle the whole way and she has that good kick at the finish.
“Mr Rohaut was adamant that she was in good shape, and he was right. She’s quite strong to sit on, she’s all there and she moves like a real sprinter. She’s a lovely filly.”
Oisin Murphy said of the runner-up: “Dragon Symbol is better than that. It’s a shame the good ones weren’t drawn beside him, we followed the wrong ones.”
Kevin Ryan, trainer of Glass Slippers, said: “I am absolutely delighted. She came there travelling very strongly. We would like to have got a racecourse gallop into her, but the ground has been so firm everywhere. We didn’t want to risk doing that. We knew coming here she was going to need the run. We can look forward to the rest of the year now.
“We will have a chat over the weekend, but we will generally take the same sort of route, the race in Ireland [Flying Five Stakes, Group 1] I would imagine will be on the agenda. It will be a nice chat to have on Sunday morning.”
Battaash’s trainer Charlie Hills said: “He had a good trip, really. There was a lot of pace on this side of the track but he came into the race travelling nice and strong. He probably didn’t really handle the ground as well as he could have done.
“We were happy [coming into the race]. He was doing everything we have done in the past few years, so there was no difference, really. I was just a little bit concerned about the going here today.
“We will see how he comes out of the race, speak to the management and Sheikha Hissa, and decide where to go forward.”
Jim Crowley added: “The ground was probably slow enough for him. He owes us nothing and is not getting any younger.
“He travelled well early and showed plenty of enthusiasm. Even cantering down, I thought the going was slow enough.
“We’ll have a regroup and see what everybody wants to do. They don’t get quicker as they get older.”
Shadwell’s Angus Gold said: “I think Battaash has done well to get back to the races. He had an injury last year and it took him a long time to come right. He’s had issues all his life and I think it’s remarkable that he’s back with us at all.
“Jim said that he felt good, the enthusiasm was there. He didn’t like the ground but he is a seven-year-old who has had a lot of problems. I’ll speak to Sheikha Hissa. He is her horse and the last thing we want to do is abuse him.
“After all the problems he’s had and him being seven, why would we go on now? He had such a brilliant year last year. He won three out of three last year and was at the top of the game.
“I said to Sheikh Hamdan last year, he’s a six-year-old and had a fracture. He had a fantastic year and he said let’s operate on him and see. If he’s in good form, we’ll try again.
“Ascot I thought was a good run given how long he had been back in the yard. Today was not so good.
“I’ve got to speak to Sheikha Hissa and until I speak to her, I don’t know. Obviously, Charlie and the team would like to keep him in the yard, but there comes a time for all of us.”
3.35pm King George Qatar Stakes (Group 2)
1 Suesa (George Strawbridge) Francois Rohaut FR 3-8-09 William Buick 7/1
2 Dragon Symbol (Yoshiro Kubota) Archie Watson 3-8-12 Oisin Murphy 5/2
3 Glass Slippers (Bearstone Stud Limited) Kevin Ryan 5-8-13 Tom Eaves 22/1
13 ran 2/1 fav Battaash (7th)
Francois Rohaut – 4th Qatar Goodwood Festival winner
William Buick – 31st Qatar Goodwood Festival winner